January 2016 issue: Grit and greatness

In theory, a safety net is designed to protect you but in practice, it encourages failure; it becomes a hammock that steals your grit and lulls you into complacency.

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Wikipedia defines a safety net as a device that “protects people from injury after falling from heights by limiting the distance they fall, and deflecting to dissipate the impact energy”. The net was first installed as a safety device during the Golden Gate Bridge construction during 1933 –1937 to prevent construction employees from falling to their death.

Humans design all kinds of safety nets in life to protect themselves in case they have a metaphorical “fall”. It would seem that safety nets make people working above it more courageous and inspire them to work harder and be more successful in the knowledge that there is something to protect them if they make a mistake. That’s true in theory but in practice, a safety net encourages failure. It becomes a hammock that makes people lax and lulls people into complacency. Knowing that there’s something to fall back upon, they tend to become less alert, practise less and are more likely to make mistakes and fail. Why? Because failure is now a “safe” option.

Success usually comes to those who don’t think about failure. They don’t give themselves an option to hesitate. Hence they are not focussed on preventing failure but on attaining their goals. Because of this courageous mindset, they usually succeed in a big way. But if you think courage is synonymous with recklessness, this adrenaline-pumping issue will make you change your mind. It will make you see that courage is the only thing that makes life worth living. On the other hand, the stakes of timidity and comfort zones are way too high—though we may continue to breathe and exist, we end up losing out on life itself.

In the New Year’s first cover story, Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval share true accounts of grit and greatness. The stories will arouse your latent valour and make you re-think about the safety nets that might be preventing you from living to your highest potential. “Too often, our typical default setting is to fear disaster, rather than actually plan for it,” they write adding, “We live life avoiding what we fear, a hundred times a day. And what we fear often comes down to failure or rejection.”

Best-selling author of Bangkok 8 and its sequels, British writer John Burdett experienced firsthand how comfort makes you lackadaisical and sets you up for failure. He urges aspiring novelists to shun security and treat comfort as their enemy, an advice I relate to, not just as a writer but as someone who values life. He says, “It is quite amazing how hard the subconscious works when it is made to understand that this life is not a rehearsal, there is no safety net and no assurance of any final closure. It is also quite appalling to realise how catatonic the imagination can become when we hedge our bets, opt for the safer direction at every fork in the path.”

As you read this issue, I hope that you will regain your nerve to step out of your comfort zones and live life the way you were meant to—boldly.

Wish you a joyous 2016!

Manoj Khatri
Manoj Khatri has spent the last two decades learning, teaching and writing about wellbeing and mindful living. He has contributed over 1500 articles for several newspapers and magazines including The Times of India, The Economic Times, The Statesman, Mid-Day, Bombay Times, Femina, and more. He is a counseling therapist and the author of What a thought!, a critically acclaimed best-selling book on self-transformation. An award-winning editor, Manoj runs Complete Wellbeing and believes that "peace begins with me".


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